USMNT looks to boost struggling attack vs. Germany

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

CLEVELAND – The U.S. Men’s National Team may have scored twice in their loss to Belgium on Wednesday, but head coach Jurgen Klinsmann knows the Americans need to show drastic improvement in the attack if they are to have any shot at avoiding another humbling defeat against Germany on Sunday.

In their 4-2 defeat to a talented Belgian side, the U.S. struggled to create many scoring chances from the run of play. Both goals, a first-half header from Geoff Cameron and a penalty kick from Clint Dempsey late, came off of set pieces and helped to highlight just how tough of a time the Americans are having in breaking down their defensively-disciplined opponents (the U.S. have scored just twice from the run of play in their last four matches and both tallies came courtesy of Dempsey).

Klinsmann acknowledged after the game at FirstEnergy Stadium that the latest offensive performance from his team was not good enough, though he made no mention of their lack of service from the wings. Klinsmann admitted that Belgium are a tough opponent but added that the U.S. made things tougher on themselves with their inability to keep possession, something that will need changing before Sunday’s friendly with Germany at RFK Stadium and the following three World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras.

“We actually talked about that before the game, that we want to kind of play simpler out of the back, not making things complicated,” Klinsmann said in his postgame press on Wednesday. “Here and there, we always look for the complicated ball into Jozy (Altidore) maybe, then into Eddie Johnson, into Clint, instead of just carrying through the midfield, just playing into people’s feet, move off the ball and keep it simple.

“We made it a little bit too difficult for ourselves there and if you do that then people get insecure, their passing gets insecure, because if you miss three, four of those passes then the fifth one will go wrong, too. Then you don’t get that flow that you hope you would get. … But what we didn’t do well was kind of playing through, keep it simple and give options to each other, just pass the ball around and don’t look for the killer ball right away. We lost far too many balls too early, too easy.”

As Klinsmann pointed out, his passing-oriented system starts with the defense and centerback Omar Gonzalez shared his coach’s assessment that building out of the back could be better. Gonzalez, who was largely responsible for Belgium’s second goal as he turned the ball over after taking a heavy touch inside his own penalty area, felt that at times the U.S. did well in that regard against Belgium but also indicated that there are improvements to be had.

“I think we saw a little bit of it today but there definitely can always be more,” Gonzalez told SBI. “Just giving it into our midfielders’ feet and maybe bypassing them and going straight to the forwards. As much as we can play on the ground, we’ve got to do it and just keep the ball moving.”

While Gonzalez and other players agreed with Klinsmann’s assessment, others did not. When Sacha Kljestan was asked about what he thought the Americans needed to do better on offense, the veteran midfielder offered up a much different response, saying that taking more chances could be what cures the U.S.’s anemic offense.

“Our ideas just have to be a bit better in the final third,” said Kljestan. “We just need to be more dynamic, putting the other team under pressure, whether that’s playing balls behind the defense, like Eddie Johnson came on and was very dangerous getting in behind the defense a few times. I think we need to try and do that a little bit more for us to be successful in the attacking third.”

Regardless of what the fix is, the U.S. know how vital it is to show more when in possession. They cannot continue to relinquish the ball easily and cannot be forced to settle for so many half-chances, not if they wish to have a good showing against Germany’s stacked side and not if they wish to pick up all nine points from their next three qualifiers.

“There was games where we’ve been on the same page and we played really well and then there’s games where we’ve been off the same page,” Cameron told SBI of the defense’s ability to jump-start the attack with quality passes. “Hopefully, we’ll get back on the same page. We have a few more days to train with each other and get some movement patterns down and hopefully that will help us out in the next game.”

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119 Responses to USMNT looks to boost struggling attack vs. Germany

  1. k says:

    Jozy scores a brace against Germany. You heard it here 1st

    • KillerInstict says:

      Jozy doesn’t even start against Germany, instead E.J.. You heard it here 1st

    • NickCO says:

      Jozy looks closer to being subbed off after 20 mins than he does to scoring a brace.

      • ozotkd says:

        Really would like to believe that, but Ives on the podcast said Jozy was subbed off because of fitness, doubt he will start. Would be great though if he gets a brace!!!

    • cunado says:

      Jozy Altidore or Jozy out the door. He adds zero to the US. Time to look elsewhere and just let him focus on club.

  2. bryan says:

    some good comments from the players and JK. it seemed like they were too hesitant to pass it around, and as a result, we saw passes go nowhere. they need that confidence.

    i’d like to see something like this (being realistic about who will play):

    ————Jozy—–Gomez————–
    Beasley——-—————-Dempsey
    ————Jones—-Bradley————-
    Castillo—Besler—Cam—–Johnson
    ——————-Howard——————

  3. bryan says:

    some good comments from the players and JK. it seemed like they were too hesitant to pa$$ it around, and as a result, we saw pa$$es go nowhere. they need that confidence.

    i’d like to see something like this (being realistic about who will play):

    ————Jozy—–Gomez————–
    Beasley——-—————-Dempsey
    ————Jones—-Bradley————-
    Castillo—Besler—Cam—–Johnson
    ——————-Howard——————

    • bryan says:

      essentially, allow Beasley and Castillo to play nice and wide on the left. Give Jones the freedom to play that regista role, moving up and down that LCM area of the field. Tell Bradley to stay back and clean up in front of the back four. And have Dempsey pinching in more and allowing Johnson to provide the really wide play on the right side.

      • Dan M says:

        bryan, Bradley has never been a good #6 defender, so your suggestions just won’t happen.

        • byrdman says:

          What kind of role does he play for Roma? Is he a Dmid for them?

          • Dan M says:

            Roma plays a 4-3-3, so the comparison isn’t square. My point is that he is no “destroyer” and he not only goes forward, but he is well suited to go forward, so it doesn’t make sense to put him back when playing for the Nats. Truth be told, however, I am not sure who would be good at that role. Edu and Cameron are well suited for it, but Edu has fallen out of favor and Klinsi likes Cameron at D.

        • bryan says:

          what are you talking about dude? he can play the #6 just fine. he’s done a lot. but he’d be more box-to-box anyway while Jones is the regista. think xabi/khedira model.

          either way, this shouldn’t surprise you. idk how you havent noticed, but whenever Jones/Bradley play, Bradley is the one who sits back. it’s caused frustration from a lot of people.

    • The Future says:

      The attack sucked. We need to call in Donovan and get Stuart Holden at full strength. They are the two most creative midfielders we have.

      ————Jozy—–———————–
      ———————— Demps ———–
      Holden——-—————-—Donovan
      ————Jones—-Bradley————-
      Chandler—Cam—Omar—–Johnson
      ——————-Howard——————

      • bryan says:

        I agree with that, but like I said, what i put down was realistic of what will likely happen. I hope he calls up LD, but it doesn’t seem like he will. Certainly not for Germany…which is what this lineup is for.

        As for Holden, I doubt he starts but I’m sure he’ll play more minutes. Maybe a 60th minute sub, maybe even half time depending on what is going on.

      • MN Footie says:

        My understanding was that these friendlies were more about figuring out depth chart issues. For competitive games, I like your lineup (with the exception of Chandler, probably), particularly Holden and Donovan attacking from the wings. Holden’s best position might be CM, but I don’t think we’ll see any change in Jones/Bradley, so at least we get his possession and creativity on the field as a winger.

        I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Chandler out there for the Germany game, though, as you said. Just to give him another opportunity in a less-meaningful game.

        • Kelso says:

          I don’t think they’re all about sorting out depth chart issues. Sure for the really close battles these are important games but its mainly about preparing for the best possible showing in the upcoming qualifiers

        • The Future says:

          Yeah, I like Holden more at CAM, but I agree that Klinsmann seems to have fallen in love with 2 DM, so that won’t work. My lineup was more of a wish list for upcoming qualifiers than for the Germany game.

  4. downintexas says:

    Honestly I think the best thing for our attack is a stable back line. I know we have been hit with the injury bug and other wierd things. But Klinsman has yet to nail down a starting CB pair. Gooch and Boca were great cause they understood each other they know each other they trusted each other. Timmy could trust them the rest of the team could trust them. Right now I don’t know if the team feels that way with who we put out there. We need a consistant CB pair as much as possible. Gonzo and Besler, in my opinion have earned those spots for now. With there showing at Col and Mex.

    • DC Josh says:

      +1

    • beachbum says:

      +2

      • biff says:

        +3 After Gonzo’s solid showing against Costa Rica and then followed up with strong showing against Mexico paired up with Besler, who was a beast against Mexico, any coach with any braains of all would have tried to build, ahem, chemistry on that and again played Gonzo-Besler against Belgium. But Klinsman the Tinkerer had other ideas and it failed, failed, failed and I simply do not understand anymore what this guy is doing.

        • downintexas says:

          I don’t mind his tinkering in a friendly. BUT those two or whomever need to learn to work together and build chemistry. And against Bel. and Ger. would have been two very important learning experiances for those two.

  5. ATX_Colin says:

    Talk is cheap

  6. SanFran415 says:

    So… Sacha, you’re just going to do your own thing? I know people are stressed about the play of the team, but what exactly is a coach supposed to do when he sets specific tactics and the CM decides he is just not going to do that?

    That’s frankly ridiculous to me.

    • downintexas says:

      wait wait wait, mister I can’t see how the players are practicing and such and such. How do you know that SK didn’t do 100% what klinsman told him to do? ha

      • SanFran415 says:

        Tthe quotes are right there! Ives even made a section of the article about how Kljestan said he decided to do something different.

        • MN Footie says:

          Eh, I think you can read his comments as proposing a solution to the problem, not necessarily that he set out to do (or did) something differently from what he was asked.

          And, to be fair, it would be nice to see some more movement up top. Is Sasha the guy to distribute to forwards moving in the way he’s suggested they should? I tend to think no, but you can’t argue with the logic of his proposal.

    • Ed says:

      What’s ridiculous is you taking these quotes and interpreting it as Kljestan wanting to “do his own thing”, he was just making an observation about what he thought needed to happen. There was no implication of disobedience whatsoever.

      • SanFran415 says:

        “Here and there, we always look for the complicated ball into Jozy (Altidore) maybe, then into Eddie Johnson, into Clint, instead of just carrying through the midfield, just playing into people’s feet, move off the ball and keep it simple.” -Klinsmann

        “We just need to be more dynamic, putting the other team under pressure, whether that’s playing balls behind the defense, like Eddie Johnson came on and was very dangerous getting in behind the defense a few times.” – Kljestan

        I respectfully submit that those are exact opposite things and while Sacha might not have been actively trying to disobey the coach, he clearly did not listen a word Klinsmann said about how to build up the attack. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that it was not malicious.

        But when the coach says he is disappointed that the midfielders tried to force difficult long balls and complex p@sses into the forward group instead of playing simple and short and the center midfielder says he wanted to do even more of the long, difficult balls–yeah, those are kind of the opposite.

        So giving him the benefit of the doubt, he ignored every word that was said about the game tactics. And in a funny twist of irony, his actions hurt the team drastically and left other players out to try who were trying to play the system.

        • Ed says:

          Right, but your original post implied willful disobedience, which is a bit unfair. Clearly they disagree though. I think it’s funny Kljestan made the comment when I can’t remember him attempting anything close to “dynamic”…

          • SanFran415 says:

            Agreed lol. I’m not entirely sure what his definition of dynamic is

            • Ed says:

              Also- kljestans comments sort of remind me of the crux of the sporting news article– the impression that several players don’t agree with the plans put in place for them.

              • SanFran415 says:

                Then it might appear that Sacha was one of the sources.

                But to frank–you do what your coach tells you to do.

        • Chazcar2 says:

          I actually see Kljestan’s comment in line with Klinsmann’s. Being simple in the final third, getting the movement and positioning. I remember from the game that Kljestan was getting bypassed by Jones, Davis Goodson, and Cameron. They kept hitting the balls over the midfield into the forward.

          I think Kljestan is referring to people making more runs and spreading the field wide. Notice Altidore: Zero Offsides. EJ: 2 in like 3 minutes. Why does our midfield have not space? Because our forwards are keeping the opponents’ back line honest.

        • Chazcar2 says:

          I actually see Kljestan’s comment in line with Klinsmann’s. Being simple in the final third, getting the movement and positioning. I remember from the game that Kljestan was getting byp@ssed by Jones, Davis Goodson, and Cameron. They kept hitting the balls over the midfield into the forward.

          I think Kljestan is referring to people making more runs and spreading the field wide. Notice Altidore: Zero Offsides. EJ: 2 in like 3 minutes. Why does our midfield have not space? Because our forwards are keeping the opponents’ back line honest.

          • bryan says:

            yeah, i didn’t take it as he was saying bomb the ball behind the defense but rather work it through the midfield while the strikers/wingers make dangerous runs behind the defense and slip them through.

          • Original Aaron says:

            Exactly. They are talking about different things. Klinsi is talking about building out of the back, and Klejstan is talking about attacking in the final third. How people can infer they have different opinions when they aren’t even talking about the same subject is beyond me

            • beachbum says:

              +1

              and how people do it is by making up their minds on things and then always looking to build that case

        • DC Josh says:

          I would not look too much into those comments. There are other quotes from Kjlestan including him talking about doing 2 things the coaches asked of him. It is on http://www.ussoccer.com

        • somidscr21 says:

          I don’t think those things are necessarily conflicting. Klinsmann seems more concerned with playing easy, smart balls on the ground to get us started moving out of the back and into the midfield. Sacha was suggesting more creativity in the final third.

        • Dennis says:

          I thought Klinsmann was speaking about the backs propensity to try and bypass the midfield, certainly he was not telling the attacking midfielder not to make passes to forwards. It is hard to blame Sasha for the backs not passing him the ball, he was there (so was Jones) and they were generally an easier and safer option than any of Zusi, Dempsey, Altidore, Johnson or Davis.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      i agree that it looks like sacha is not on the same page at all, but i tend to agree with what he said, not klinsmann.

      it looked like, overall, they were already doing what klinsmann was talking about (being patient, p@ssing around midfield). it seemed like we were trying to be stereotypical arsenal and just p@ss it into the goal. against good teams, that’s way too easy to defend. and we don’t have the skill-type for it.

      • SanFran415 says:

        A discussion of tactics is certainly up for debate in the grand scheme of things–yes. But Klinsmann wants the players to do more than pass around the defensive third and part of the midfield, he wants them to give the ball to the forwards in space for them to create.

        If you look at all the goals Jozy scores for AZ–they come from build up through the middle and wing on the ground. Jozy’s work ethic and fitness not withstanding, I think this might shed more light on the disfunction we saw between the midfield and forward corps.

        The forwards were moving into space and Sacha was booting it long and trying difficult p@sses resulting in a large number of turnovers.

        Whether or not he agrees with the tactic is–to me–irrelevant as his actions assured that nothing would work regardless.

      • SanFran415 says:

        A discussion of tactics is certainly up for debate in the grand scheme of things–yes. But Klinsmann wants the players to do more than pass around the defensive third and part of the midfield, he wants them to give the ball to the forwards in space for them to create.

        If you look at all the goals Jozy scores for AZ–they come from build up through the middle and wing on the ground. Jozy’s work ethic and fitness not withstanding, I think this might shed more light on the disfunction we saw between the midfield and forward corps.

        The forwards were moving into space and Sacha was booting it long and trying difficult p@sses resulting in a large number of turnovers.

        Whether or not he agrees with the tactic is–to me–irrelevant as his actions @ssured that nothing would work regardless.

      • SanFran415 says:

        A discussion of tactics is certainly up for debate in the grand scheme of things–yes. But Klinsmann wants the players to do more than p@ss around the defensive third and part of the midfield, he wants them to give the ball to the forwards in space for them to create.

        If you look at all the goals Jozy scores for AZ–they come from build up through the middle and wing on the ground. Jozy’s work ethic and fitness not withstanding, I think this might shed more light on the disfunction we saw between the midfield and forward corps.

        The forwards were moving into space and Sacha was booting it long and trying difficult p@sses resulting in a large number of turnovers.

        Whether or not he agrees with the tactic is–to me–irrelevant as his actions @ssured that nothing would work regardless.

        • Ed says:

          While you may be right that his actions sort of sabotage the gameplan, my opinion is that this inept soccer we are witnessing is the result of a gameplan being forced upon players who aren’t skilled enough to properly execute it. This is compounded with the fact that many players are having to play positions that don’t necessarily fit their strengths.

          • SanFran415 says:

            I think they are skilled enough to play it–just that they’ve never really played it.

            You can see players like Gonzalez and Jones and Zusi buying into the system and looking for the easy p@sses.

            I thought Klinsmann made an interesting point about players being patient enough and having the calmness to think a few steps ahead or not rush forward.

            Could we benefit from some more skilled players? For sure.

            And while we might struggle against world class teams like Belgium, we’ll find more space and time against CONCACAF opponents. Sadly that benefit is neutralized in most away matches due to pitch problems.

            • Hunt Daddy says:

              Dude now you’re just reaching. Gonzalez and Jones playing simple? There were several times where Gonzalez, whether for lack of a better option or lack of patience, played long balls straight to Belgium’s defense. Jones’ p@ssing may be many things, but it is rarely “simple.” Especially when he is trying to chase a game to get the team back in it.

              And to counter one of your earlier points, there was very little movement from the forward line before EJ entered the game. Jozy, Clint, Brad and Zusi were way too content to play in front of the defense instead of stretching them. Quit making Sacha the scapegoat for the team’s poor play. There were a lot of substandard performances on the night.

              And in regard to the quotes, everyone quoted is right. The team needs to build simply out of the back and into the middle third and be more dynamic in the final third.

        • Nate Dollars says:

          holy hell, this moderation sucks. : )

    • biff says:

      @SanFran415: Good for Sacha for telling it like is, and if he said that you can bet some other players are feeling the same way about Klinsmann’s cr*p tactics, actually total lack of anything resembling a strategy. I actually was thinking earlier today then maybe some of the veterans on the team should have a meeting and make changes to inject some life into this team. Sort of like aparently the French players did in the early 2000s when apparently Zidane was calling the shots and everybody was ignoring the silly coach, who was humiliated later in WC 2010.

      Take a look at these videos. Nothing even close to this has happened under Klinsmann because he has the guys to busy backpassing and too afraid to try to push it up front and that, in my mind, is what Sacha was saying and I respect him for speaking his mind. You want to see team attack, then watch Egypt under Bob Bradley, who I predict after taking Egypt to WC 2014 next year is going to end up getting a preach of a job after that.

      link to youtube.com

      link to youtube.com

  7. k says:

    but why is Dempsey the only player scoring? why not partner Jozy with Gomez and Dempsey as an attacking midfielder and 3 man midfield of Jones/Bradley/Kljestan

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Because Dempsey (and to some extent Gomez also) is a quality finisher who will put the ball on cage when given the chance. Also because he will run off the ball and create his own openings, is not as dependent on service.

  8. k says:

    Dempey has 33 goals in 95 matches. That’s an amazing strike rate. 2 more goals and he becomes 2nd highest scorer for the NT. ain’t nobody gonna beat that

  9. Chazcar2 says:

    beasley———-Altidore—————Zusi
    ——–Dempsey———-Jones————-
    ———————Bradley———————
    Johnson–Besler–Gonzalez–Cameron
    ——————-Howard————————

  10. Jesse D says:

    We need speed and skill on the wings. That is the only way our attack is going to grow up. Our best options now are the same as 10 years ago, Beasley on the left and Donovan on the right.

    • Bac says:

      Whatever the reasons… as difficult as it may be for the American fans to swallow…. you’re right

    • Cappiello says:

      Truth

      • ATX_Colin says:

        Thats the truth, are best options on the wing have not changed a bit, we are the same team as last cycle, a bit older and minus a solid defense.

  11. Kung Fu Kangaroos says:

    I agree with what Sacha said. They need to get behind the defense more. Good things happen when you take the ball to the endline like what Eddie and Beasley did a few times.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      If you want to reconcile both sides, maybe if we had more speed, width, and overlapping, then we’d sustain the passing and possession further up the field. It kind of felt like we were often trying to thread needles with balls straight up the field that had to sneak between Belgians. Or they were just playing kickball. To fix that you either need people showing ball so the American is first to the ball, or you maybe need a few more options including width to look for.

      To me, the people we’ve been playing “wide” are not vertical threats, the defense can push up more, the defense condenses and the holes get smaller. If we’re playing Landon, Gatt, Beasley, Dempsey, someone whose speed they have to honor, they back up deeper, passing gets simpler.

      I mean, one of my concerns with Klinsi is he can obviously implement the basic formation and convey how he’d like to play, but I’m not sure he really understands the personnel or how in practice we’re going to execute the gameplan. There is no consistent approach, sometimes it’s heavily defensive with 3 DMs, sometimes he has real wings, sometimes not, sometimes it seems like he wants to knock it around and combo play, sometimes we’re positional. Bradley’s teams had clear concepts that they would play, sometimes well, sometimes not so much.

      I say this in part because for example I think we all know Jozy pretty well by now, if there is a clear mission statement, he either fits it or not. If there’s a style and a player plainly doesn’t fit it, you don’t confuse the matter by giving him endless chances. You try and find someone else to play the system. [I mean, maybe it's that Jozy is weaker as a 451 striker than EJ is as a 451 wing.....counterintuitive but perhaps that simple. If Jozy wants back in he needs to try out as a wing and outplay EJ there.]

  12. Cairo says:

    Eventually (obviously not now) I want to see Beas and Johnson on left (up to staff who plays back and who plays mid–they can interchange when the fullback pushes forward) and Donovan and Cherundolo on the right. Right now we don’t have any of our best right sided players available (the aforementioned plus Chandler). Honestly, I am done thinking our central midfield will be able to possess and attack up the middle against decent competition. push it up the sidelines and then flood the box for crosses. If Jozy isn’t up for fighting in the box (he’s not the most aggressive guy on headers) then put someone else who is (Herc, EJ, Wondo, Lenhart, Bruin–anyone who fights in the box). Does anyone really think we can attack up the gut with enough consistency against anyone other than a Concacaf minnow? Not until the U-20 Freddy Adu shows up, and I don’t think that’s happening soon..

    • Dennis says:

      When Adu learns how to play with a team, any team, he might get a look. In Brazil he is still on the outside looking in as a team player. How many more countries, teams and coaches before he finally learns that professional soccer is about more than a couple nifty moves done in isolation?

  13. k says:

    whats up with Jurgens coaching

  14. Brain Guy says:

    “The U.S. Men’s National Team may have scored twice in their loss to Belgium on Wednesday, but head coach Jurgen Klinsmann knows the Americans need to show drastic improvement in the attack if they are to have any shot at avoiding another humbling defeat against Germany on Sunday.”

    You could change just a few things about that opening paragraph (opponent, win vs. loss) and plop it right into a story about virtually every game in the last several years. We’re still waiting for that “drastic improvement” — indeed, for perceptible improvement.

    • SanFran415 says:

      You’ll be waiting for years–when dynamic youth players hopefully integrate into the senior team.

      This is the same squad minus Donovan that lost to Panama and beat Guadeloupe by 1 goal in the Gold Cup before the blow out against Mexico.

      It honestly kind of bugs me that people think this lack of talent and good play suddenly happened under Klinsmann. This very squad is why Bradley was fired, and he at least had all of our major players healthy and in relatively good form.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Are you the Astros’ GM? I need to wait on the farm system?

        This is a pretty loaded team on attack, as are the youth teams. Problem I’m seeing is the teams from senior on down to U20 can’t seem to play defense. Don’t see a ton of farmhands waiting to fix the issue.

        The reality is there was a lot of U23 attacking talent and fair or unfair they’ve not beat out the starters. Corona, etc.

        Plus I have a basic formational concern that when we trend more 433 with the formation, that this is not an effective formation for controlling games and closing out…..ES U23. And I’m not sold the 451 version is efficient at anything. In which case, what am I training up the next generation to do? I think of TFC abandoning their 433 experiment.

      • Brain Guy says:

        I did not mean to suggest that the problem began under Klinsmann, but rather that things have not appreciably improved. If your point is that he just doesn’t have the players, then so be it. But Klinsmann was hired specifically to change things, not simply to manage the status quo.

        • SanFran415 says:

          I’m not specifically referencing you–even though my comment did come in flow of thought while addressing yours.

          We are seeing more and more spots where his influence is coming through on the game. We’ve had some great p@ssing sequences with players looking more comfortable on the ball and looking for the easy ball.

          I see what he’s trying to do–set the tone with the existing guys so that new integrated players move right into the system.

          It has to be implemented at some point or we’ll just continue recycling the same problem we’ve had with the wrong players and wrong system–content to merely eek out wins against CONCACAF squads and an occasional herculean effort like the Spain match while going back to being blown out by every good team we play.

          It’s the long game.

          • Brain Guy says:

            I hope your’re right, and that the small improvements begin to add up and knit together. On a macro scale, though, it’s hard to see real progress, and hence easy to get discouraged. Maybe things will “click” in the rest of qualifying and even less perceptive folks like me will be able to take heart.

            • Dennis says:

              Prior to 1990, the US could not qualify from Concacaf and in 90 it took a miracle shot to lift the US past T&T to qualify. When enough grandpas have some soccer sense, parents will have more and the kids will develop soccer brains. It all takes time. You are way too impatient.

              • Brain Guy says:

                Yikes — that means waiting two generations. So are we talking 2040? I’ve been watching the MNT since 1989 myself, and yes, there has been marked improvement in 24 years. All I’m asking for is some hint that the US might be a better attacking side by 2014.

      • beachbum says:

        laughable, the ultimate apologist…it’s Bradley’s fault. now go ahead and write some novella in reply

        • SanFran415 says:

          I specifically said it was not Bradley’s fault. How was that not clear to you?

  15. SanFran415 says:

    To take it a step further…

    In the 2011 Gold Cup–under Coach Bradley–if you take out the 2 goals in the 4-2 loss to Mexico in the final, the USA scored 7 goals in 5 games. Those 5 games included Panama twice and Guadeloupe and they all happened in the United States. That’s even worse than now–and that was with a healthy Donovan.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      lol, why would we take out the 2 goals against mexico?

      and i think what annoys people is that we really haven’t shown much improvement or cohesion. we’re woefully inconsistent, and it doesn’t seem like we’re much closer to having an established squad.

      hopefully these friendlies are deceiving (as friendlies usually are), and we’ll have a better view from the next round of quals.

      • SanFran415 says:

        I’m sure they will be.

        I took out the two Mexico goals to illustrate how the team was playing against pretty bad teams not named Mexico.

        • beachbum says:

          Bradley should have not been rehired, but that was a function of Gulati and Klinnsman punking around.

          All Bradley did was lead to the team to its first international final ever, defeating the #1 team in the world along the way. He also guided them to their first group stage victory in 60 something years at the WC, winning their final group stage game for the first time ever (and in wildly dramatic fashion), all while overcoming 2 honest goals disallowed

          at least with Klinnsman, we get calls to go our way, he deserves credit for that imo…see the Mexico game in Azteca, see the Belgium game, other games too for examples

      • MN Footie says:

        My two cents: Personnel dictates tactics. This hasn’t always seemed to be the case in Klinsmann’s strategy. Take, for instance, the Honduras game to open the Hex. It appeared that we ceded the center of the pitch, in order to have a an effective wingplay counterattack with our corners. Our corners weren’t capable of that, partly because of who they were, and partly because they didn’t themselves have the type of release-valve player in front of them. Good tactics, but not any that fits with the players we have.

  16. fliffy lefoffelif says:

    I think the comments from players and coach indicate a team that just doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing against a quality opponent. They should not be so disorganized at this point. There is still time to make it better, but not a whole lot. When DeMarcus Beasley is a bright spot for you, you got problems.

  17. dude says:

    1) You want to build out of the back? Start Besler, let him initiate.

    2) Simple passes to feet? Yeah, that would help, but what the attack really needs is more unpredictable play, crosses, dangerous cuts inside. It might also help to give Jozy a chance to RUN through the defense rather than muscle through them. This requires skill, vision, and recognizing the run. This is something Jozy is actually good at, especially balls over the top. Let’s get on that.

    ps. one of those wingers should Eddie. He’s the best we got right now.

  18. ShamB508 says:

    Most of the blame has to start with JK because of his player selection. Not having Donovan will obviously hurt our team especially in the attacking third but I feel we need to play Gringo Torres in a deep holding role along side Bradley instead of Jones. Players like Gatt should be on the squad because the US are not getting service from the wings. Also Jurgen needs to partner Jozy with another striker

  19. Shaggie96 says:

    Just wanted to add a dose of perspective based on actual facts:

    USMNT Results under BB from Aug ’09 – Jul ’11:

    12 Wins, 13 Losses, 6 Ties, GD = -5, GF/game = 1.29, GA/game = 1.45

    Tough games = 16/31 = 51.6%

    USMNT Results under JK from Aug ’11 – Belgium:

    12 Wins, 8 Losses, 6 Ties, GD = +6, GF/game = 1.23, GA/game = 1

    Tough games = 12/26 = 46.2%

    Granted, tough games could be somewhat subjective, but the stats are actual. The fact is, that JK, with virtually the same players (could be argued he’s had lesser players), has achieved far better results than BB did in his last two years with roughly the same percentage of difficult games. For all of the complaining about lack of attacking prowess, the team has pretty much the same scoring average under JK as it did under BB, while giving up far fewer goals. That sounds like pretty damn good coaching to me.

    JK probably set himself up for criticism by proclaiming that the USMNT would be playing a more attractive style of soccer, but that type of change will take at least a full WC cycle. That’s how long it took in Germany and he’s dealing with a much leaner player pool. Cut the man some slack.

    • Judging Amy says:

      I felt this way about Bob Bradley when he took over: Initial skepticism then he won me over by winning games and getting the job done. Fair’s fair. JK is getting the job done so he earns the benefit of the doubt. I’m seeing improvement in some aspects of the Nats’ game and admittedly it’s not always pretty, and I have questions about certain decisions, but bottom line is results don’t lie and he is definitely p@ssing his tests.

      JK is certainly nowhere near the train wreck of a coach some want to paint him out to be.

      I think BB did a great job with the team but I think his style took us as far as it was gonna. It was his time to go and it’s Klinsmann’s turn now. Now, comparing them as coaches, I don’t think Bob’s last 2 years are fair in terms of measuring him against Klinsmann as a coach. I think by then he was in a sort of lame duck period where the writing was on the wall. I think a more fair comparison would be “prime” Bob Bradley in his first 3 years versus Klinsmann now. But that’s a minor quibble and just my opinion.

      The bottom line is it’s Klinsmann’s time and he’s doing a fine job and the results show that.

    • 2tone says:

      Good post.

    • somidscr21 says:

      Outstanding

    • Mig says:

      True and I love when people put numbers to things. However it is important to note that the Klinsman era is very much padded by the numbers from exhibition matches. In competitions that counted, we needed at least a point in the last game of the preliminary round to even get to the Hex. We looked embarra$singly bad vs. Honduras, played in a joke of a snow bowl for our one win in three, and had a referee aided 0-0 in Azteca. Not tragic but really not very good in the games that count.

      I do like the perspective of the numbers though, cheers.

      • GW says:

        The US go didn’t into the Hex didn;t they?

        All that matters is getting in. I don’t care if the US needs the fourth place playoff to do so as long as they get into the WC.

    • DS says:

      I agree with the other replies, really great post. This helps ease the pain of the Belgium loss and makes me feel a little better about what had appeared to be a decline in performance. Hopefully the team can show up and play well against Germany and blow through the 3 qualifiers.

    • Dennis says:

      That kind of change will happen when parents of youth soccer players understand soccer better. The hope is that today’s youth players will know more than their parents and the next generation (25 years from now) will be better. A single W.C. cycle is way too short a time to expect significant improvement, barring 2 or 3 star-quality players (whose injury would decimate the team).

    • beachbum says:

      thanks for putting that together.

      Bradley should not have been rehired. Gulati wanted Klinnsman the whole time and Bradley was caught in the middle when it would have been best for all to part after the cycle

      instead, compare Klinnsman to what Bradley accomplished in his first four years…the Gold Cup win over Mexico, the Confed Cup finals appearance while beating Spain on the way, the WC firsts the team accomplished…….

      he should never have been hired back, most folks here and elsewhere said so, so did I…but that is on the Gulati/Klinnsman struggle over control of things

      • Shaggie96 says:

        My analysis starts after the 2009 Gold Cup. I actually compiled the numbers on Bradley’s entire career when I did the analysis originally and you’re right, Bradley’s first couple of years and through the Confed Cup were pretty impressive. There are a couple of reasons I didn’t include it, though. First, he had two cupcake games against Barbados which skewed the numbers a lot, and in general played a lot fewer difficult games. Second, the purpose of my analysis was to see what JK is doing with mostly the same players that BB had. Going back more than two years brings in too many variables to make it a good comparison.

        The truth is that other than the Spain game in the Confed Cup, the team was a lot less competitive in general against the top teams under Bradley than it is under Klinsmann.

        • beachbum says:

          considering Bradley’s accomplishmnets came in games that mattered, I disagree, but my point is the jury is still out on Klinnsman, and that accomplishments in international competions–Gold Cup, Confed Cup, World Cup–are more valuable to compare than results in friendlies. As so many here have pointed out, the Belgium game and the Germany game results don’t matter nearly as much becasue it’s preparation for the WC qualis coming up

          Bradley’s team also won the CONCACAF WC qualifying

    • Clay says:

      So you can make statistics say whatever you want… I’m only going to look at meaningful matches, so here’s 2011 Gold Cup vs. 2014 Qualifying…

      Jurgen’s coached nine games that matter, going 5-2-2 (Costa Rica, Jamaica, Guatemala, Antigua twice). In those games, 33 shots have been on target, with 11 coming from the 3-1 win over Antigua. In five of the nine, two or less shots have found the target. Sounds like attractive soccer to me.

      For comparison’s sake, Bob Bradley went 4-2-0 (Canada, Guadeloupe, Panama, Jamaica) at the Gold Cup, the only meaningful event he coached post World Cup. The U.S. had 27 on target in those six games.

      The average for goals scored in those games is 1.5 to 1.44 in favor of Bradley. The goals against is relatively close as well, mostly due to the 4-2 match in the 2011 final. Bradley gave up six in six with four clean sheets, Klinsmann eight in nine with three.

      Point is, Bradley, with an offense that certainly didn’t broadcast itself as attractive soccer, somehow put more shots on frame and scored at a better rate while Klinsmann can’t get a guy that scored 51 times in the past two years to put ONE in the back of the net. Or almost ANY OTHER forward for that matter.

      The last two teams that Klinsmann left were demonstrably better for it, especially in Bayern’s case. So pardon me for not thinking he’s the answer. There was a reason he was jobless for so long in the first place.

      • wandmdave says:

        I don’t know about Bayern because I don’t follow them but at Germany and here he has been a catalyst for change. In Germany’s case he may have gotten sacked but the culture change he implemented certainly stayed in place and they are a much better team to watch and still get great results. In our case we are going from defend and counter to possession and attacking soccer. I don’t think anyone would argue that transition has been smooth or that it is anywhere near complete. However it certainly helps explain the quality of our opportunities. When we played bunker ball our opportunities were very few and far between but in the event a counter actually reached our attacking 1/3rd it tended to be a situation where the D was very stretched or we were already behind them so our shots would be more likely to be on goal. Now our opportunities tend to be generated against a D that is set so we still have trouble getting into the final 3rd and when we do we’re shooting or crossing against a set defense. I’m not arguing that is an improvement but the tactics we are trying to employ are far better if we ever get the personnel to execute them more effectively. There is a chance some of JKs favorites will develop into the players we need but it may take another cycle or even two before we can develop some players with the speed and ball skills we need. Whether JK is still around to see his vision come to fruition or not if it does pan out like it did for Germany then we’ll be far better off because of that change. Tbh that is one thing JK is bringing to the position few if any coaches we could realistically get could bring. He has the name recognition to execute these changes even if performance dips in the short term without getting fired and having everything get rolled back immediately. A less known coach would feel more pressure to play bunker ball and stagnate our team development in order to get short term results in order to keep his job. And make no mistake we do need to change our style to progress. We played dirty, negative football before and it was, for the most part, hard to watch even in victory.

      • GW says:

        The US lost that 2011 Gold Cup, a loss whose effects are still being felt.

        JK’s teams have played no tournaments and in the competitive games, the WC qualifiers are on course.

        Until the team looks like it won’t qualify or does not qualify, I see no reason to be overly concerned.

      • GW says:

        Clay,

        Bayern Munich has gotten rid of large numbers of managers over the years for reasons that are not always related to competency.

        Just look at Heynckes who was pushed out for his “failures”.
        So pardon me if I do not necessarily look at “fired by Bayern Munich” as a negative.

    • biff says:

      Winston Churchill, the great soccer player, said it best: There are lies, dam lies and then there are statistics.

      My eyes tell me that this USMNT is not playing good soccer.

  20. Raymon says:

    2 words: Alex Morgan

  21. Joamiq says:

    I actually thought our possession was OK against Belgium, at least in the first half. We had some decent attacks but they didn’t culminate in particularly dangerous chances, so Kljestan is right about that much. We needed some more fire in the second half to respond when Belgium really started to turn it on and show why they are, IMO, a top 5 team in the world right now. Can’t wait to have Bradley back.

  22. zztoppppp says:

    35-man gold cup preliminary roster has been released: Here is the link, it is the last page on the pdf.

    link to dl.dropboxusercontent.com

  23. Nick says:

    I don’t know if this has been brought up, but I would like to know how our attack looks in training. For whatever reason (lack of experience, lack of cohesion), everyone else seems to find it relatively easy to create some good chances against us. I wonder if the struggling attack may be at least partly due to the fact that maybe it’s also too easy for our attackers in training. If they aren’t being sufficiently challenged by the defense, then they are almost always going to come out slow and ineffective against more solid teams.

  24. Travis in Miami says:

    Player’s skillsets do not match the system.
    Period.
    Maybe by 2018 this will change. By 2022 for sure it should.

  25. hudson says:

    Sounds like Kljestan is pointing the finger at Jozy, if you read between the lines of his comments. He should take a look in the mirror–90% of his passes were backward, and the forward passes he made were intercepted or errant. Instead of taking the opportunity to demonstrate his playmaking skills, he underscored Bradley’s importance in linking with the back line to initiate attacks from the midfield.